In order for us to clearly understand the nature of the Beast which is shortly “TO COME” (Rev 17:8) we need first to take a closer look at the Beast “THAT WAS” to determine just what were some of the leading causes and or circumstances which brought it to life (during the French Revolution) in the first place . If we can determine this we might then look to see if any of these similar circumstances are taking place today.
Several of the primary causes were 1) Political conflict between the classes, 2) economic hardships; 3) governments disregard for the will of the people, and of course 4) The Enlightenment.
“Since the Middle Ages, France had been divided into a three-class system. The nobility made up the first class, the clergy the second and the peasantry the third. There was no room for social climbing: Kings gave birth to kings, paupers gave birth to paupers. For centuries, the Old Regime held all the power in France. The nobility and clergy represented only 3 percent of the French population, but their minds conceived of the policies that governed the entire country. This system was rigid and uncompromising, but no one paused to consider — or dared to say — that it was unfair.
By the 18th century, the Enlightenment was dawning. Philosophers like Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau advocated for equality and reason. They asked why people put their faith in political and religious leaders who disregarded their needs. In salons, the wealthy members of Parisian society debated these issues. Their eyes were on the American colonies, where the Americans had gone to war to claim their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… While the French nobles pondered the unfairness of the universe, peasants went hungry in the streets of Paris and in the outlying provinces.”
Today we have similar circumstances, conflict between three classes, the rich (or the 1% as many like to call them), the middle or working class, and the poor (or what some refer to as the entitlement class. Note however that not all the poor although equally qualified receive any kind of government assistance, most are too proud to accept help, charity.) So too the opportunity to climb beyond ones social or economic status is somewhat limited. Here too those in positions of power (government), money and influence, the minority dictate the laws and policies which govern the rest of us, the majority. Many of which laws and policies they exempt themselves from. Here too the people question why? Why are the privileged not bound by the same laws as the rest of us? Why do our elected officials cater to their own needs and disregard the people? And so while the politicians today argue over what to do we likewise have the poor and the hungry, the homeless.
Other causes: 5) Excessive Government debt, 6) Wars waged in foreign lands which lead to further debt likewise dividing the people.
“When Louis XV died in 1774, the crown went to Louis Auguste…His young wife, Marie Antoinette, only compounded his troubles. When she wasn’t reproducing, Marie Antoinette was spending. Her reputation as Madame Deficit was well-deserved: She amused herself by ordering hundreds of gowns, trying out elaborate hairstyles and hosting lavish parties at her private retreat, Petit Trianon, on Versailles’ expansive grounds. Marie Antoinette had a yearly wardrobe allowance of $3.6 million, but she easily surpassed that by ordering dresses trimmed with silver and gold and dripping with precious jewels — even diamonds.
Emasculated by this negative publicity and still smarting from criticisms at court, Louis exacted military vengeance. He pledged 2,000 million livres to the American Revolutionary War; for that massive sum, he could’ve fed and sheltered 7 million of his own people for a year. This mistake wouldn’t be his last, however. And the French would see to it that he was duly punished.”
Other leading causes: 7) Freedom of the Press, 8) Hate mongers and revolutionary agitators abound, 9) The Fires of Revolution and are stoked, 10) Disregard for the laws of the land.
“In early May of 1789, a lawyer named Maximillian Robespierre went to Versailles to serve as a deputy at the Estates General (A legislative body made up of deputies or representatives from each of the three estates). He was a true representative of the people; from the beginning, he incited unrest among the staid deputies when he proclaimed that all estates should pay taxes. Robespierre’s perspective was guided by Enlightenment logic, and it quickly gathered popularity as well as derisive ire.
Nearly two months of heated debate fueled the long-dormant Estates General, and the members of the third estate even won over some members of the clergy and nobility to their cause. But discussion was silenced on June 20, 1789, when members of the first and second estates bolted the doors of the Estates General shut. Undaunted, deputies found an unoccupied indoor tennis court and reconvened there. They identified themselves as the National Assembly and passionately swore to write a constitution for the people of France, in what became known as the Tennis Court Oath.
During the early days of the National Assembly, there was a shred of hope that Louis might endorse this constitution. But when 30,000 of the king’s troops were positioned around Paris, the people realized that reform wouldn’t be won through politicos’ promises and hopeful treatises. They responded by creating a homespun militia. The people broke into armories and swept the stores clean of firearms.
Then, Louis made the fateful decision to dismiss Necker from his position as minister of finance. The people viewed this as a direct retaliation to their cause. There was no mobilization of troops, no grand pronouncement of attack. On July 14, sheer chaos broke out in the streets of Paris, and the people headed for the Bastille.
After the fall of Bastille…Louis could scarcely believe the news, but the National Assembly took it in stride. It was a victory for the people, and bloodshed was natural in revolution, wasn’t it? But this was an important turning point for France. There was no longer any possibility for reform — the movement had organically become a revolution.”
The National Assembly quickly drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man, in which Louis was essentially written out of authority. All men were declared equal; the class system a distant memory of France’s feudal past. Ever a man of the people, Maximilien Robespierre authorized freedom of the press so that information could quickly be disseminated to the streets of Paris.
Freedom of the press paved the way for irresponsible journalism, however. Jean Paul Marat and Jacques Rene Hebert, respective authors of L’Ami du people and Le Pere Duchesne, were reckless propagandists. In many ways, their newspapers kept stride with the mounting tension, but they also stoked the fires of revolution. What Robespierre did for the Estates General and the National Assembly, Marat and Hebert did for the people of France. Their words excited the third estate, confirming in their minds that the revolution was a natural and just movement. But with increasingly vulgar language and paranoid indictments, the newspapers were less credible sources of information than they were death warrants for the clergy and nobility.
As the events of the French Revolution slowly unfolded, the rest of the world had been watching guardedly from a distance. Britain and other European nations were delighted to watch the superpower implode, but they’d later be horrified at the escalating bloodiness of the revolution. Americans were a degree more sympathetic; France had largely funded their revolution. One difference between the nations was that the United States had emerged as a republic (a government in which the power lies in the people’s hands and popular vote decides the leaders), and France was still a constitutional monarchy (a limited monarchy in which the king or queen is limited in legislative powers).”
“The wave of revolutionary fervor and widespread hysteria quickly swept the countryside. Revolting against years of exploitation, peasants looted and burned the homes of tax collectors, landlords and the seigniorial elite. Known as the Great Fear (“la Grande peur”), the agrarian insurrection hastened the growing exodus of nobles from the country and inspired the National Constituent Assembly to abolish feudalism on August 4, 1789, signing what the historian Georges Lefebvre later called the “death certificate of the old order.”
With the advent of the information age, the internet and social networking, news coverage on various issues, controversies, troubles, and climatic events reach the ears of the people worldwide almost instantly; instantly stirring emotions both pro and con. Such information calls many to action, not always productive, but off times destructive.
Here too we have very little need to point out the comparisons between the contributions of the press today and that of the past in inciting civil discord and hatred amongst the people, the evidence is so overwhelming that only a blind man could not see this. The selfish desire of the individual journalist (?) as well as the news organization itself to sell a story whether true or not is the prime mover behind this. It should be noted that not all those who stir the pot, have come from the press alone many such individuals hold religious and governmental positions as well.
“When the government’s monopoly of power is effectively challenged by groups who no longer recognize its legitimate authority, no longer grant it loyalty, and no longer obey its commands (its laws), a revolutionary spirit evolves.”
The fires for revolution (change) and the disregard for the laws of the land are likewise prevalent today; in fact it is this refusal to recognize legitimate authority structures (governments, laws, law enforcement and etc.) that is contributing rapidly to the disintegration of the social order.
“The role of the people and violence: This contrast between theory and practice, between good intentions and acts of savage violence, which was the salient feature of the French Revolution, becomes less startling when we remember that the Revolution, though sponsored by the most civilized classes of the nation, was carried out by its least educated and most unruly elements.”
And so it is written,
“But the day of the Lord (the great day of trouble) will come as a thief (suddenly, unexpectedly), in which the heavens (the ecclesiastical heavens, the powers that be, both the seen and the unseen) will pass away with a great noise (hissing, turmoil, confusion), and the elements (society in general) will melt with fervent heat (dissolve into confusion, trouble and anarchy); both the earth (the present social order) and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat (into violence, anarchy and bloodshed)?” 2 Pet 3:10-12
The foregoing were some of the primary causes which brought rise to the Beast; however the results or outcome was even more manifold, the revolution instigated,
- The Great Terror (an initiative designed to purge France of all counter-revolutionaries, which in turn resulted in their slaughter.)
- The establishment of the revolutionary tribunal designed to try citizens who were suspected of counter-revolutionary activity.
- The execution of all political prisoners.
- The institution of a police state.
- The establishment of the Committee of Public Safety (Robespierre [i.e. the government] decided who lived and who died.)
- The suspension of Constitutional rights.
- The censorship of the press.
- The eradication of Christianity.
- The establishment of a new calendar in which all religious references to religion were stricken.
- A new ten day week intended to make French citizens forget about Sunday, the proverbial day of worship and rest.
- A New Government Religion instituted, The Cult of the Supreme Being, the god of reason and logic.
- Military Rule.
“One of the most fascinating and haunting aspects of the French Revolution is that no one was spared from its gory violence. There was no effort to shield women and children’s eyes from the heads that lolled at the base of the guillotine. Dainty aristocrats became hardened from years languishing in dank prisons. A man who’d been your political ally and friend on Tuesday could very well turn you in for counter-revolutionary plotting on Wednesday. In Paris, the steady thud of the guillotine’s blade meeting flesh and bone became white noise to city inhabitants.”
The French Revolution was brought to an end by the Napoleonic military coup, the ending of which brought about the restoration of “order” and domestic peace through an authoritarian regime.
Of course the true cause for the end of this revolution was because the time was not yet due. We will take a look at that next time.
Extracts were taken from,
“How the French Revolution Worked” by Alfred Woody
History 151 “The French Revolution: Causes, Outcomes, Conflicting Interpretations”, Schwartz